We celebrated the first day of Spring this past week, and as usual in NYC, it felt more like winter for most of the day, save a strong showing of sunshine in the afternoon which tipped the temperature at just 50 for the day, giving us all hope that Mother Nature was indeed still trustworthy - even on the East Coast. The transition from season to season is always full of surprises, and consistent in its inconsistency. Just when you get used to one thing, the elements change, and we humans are left to do the adapting. Which got me to thinking about the relationship we have with our physical fitness. I am always so excited for someone who is new to "working out" and at the beginning of their fitness journey. And truth be told, just a little bit envious too. Starting from point zero and getting to a personal goal - with so much progress to be made, is exciting. It's inspiring, full of new challenges, new feelings and discoveries. Each week holds a new "win", and in the span of 6 months or a year, a measured and definable "before and after" transformation can take place.
The act of "staying in shape" however, is a lot different. The novelty is replaced by routine, and our goals become less definable and often less quantifiable, which only makes the process more amorphous. Add into the mix the reality of our bodies getting older, and "life" happening, and sometimes it can feel like we are going one step forward and two steps back. Adding short term goals into the mix can help - events like half marathons, team competitions like Tough Mudders, or working on improving our running time or how much we lift, can be fun challenges and help spice up the journey when it starts to become mundane. However sometimes, as most of us can attest, the real plot twist comes with growing older. Personally, the act of staying fit now, vs 7 years ago, takes more out of me- on every level. As we age, metabolisms slow, and just as we get used to one thing, we realize we need to adapt. Transitioning through different levels of fitness is a lot like dealing with the weather - and often just as frustrating.
I recently read an article on Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a personal hero. After her cancer treatment, she began as part of her rehabilitation, seeing a personal trainer. She's 86. Ginsberg goes to the gym every morning 3 days a week and follows a workout that her trainer developed for her. Some days are better than others. The key, as her trainer says, is that "She shows up.". In many ways, Ginsburg is a role model for all of us when it comes to fitness. Finding inspiration in the day to day can be hard, next to downright impossible some days. Sometimes the best we can do is simply show up. The absolute worst thing we can do is stop or give up because we are bored, or injured, or hit a plateau.
The act of staying fit is anything but linear. The truth is, if we are really living full lives, most of us don't keep getting faster, stronger, healthier, better. We aren't robots. The road towards "Training for Life" is winding and bumpy, and full of detours. Navigating our own personal fitness & wellness journey through all seasons takes patience, consistency, mental toughness, and (maybe most of all) a good sense of humor. It helps to think of our relationship with fitness as an ongoing journey, with no final destination in mind. Maybe the more we can enjoy the moment and appreciate our wins as well as the days we just "show up", the happier we will be and the stronger we eventually become. And isn't that really the point?